Adverse childhood experiences among adults with eating disorders: comparison to a nationally representative sample and identification of trauma

Renee D. Rienecke*, Craig Johnson, Daniel Le Grange, Jamie Manwaring, Philip S. Mehler, Alan Duffy, Susan McClanahan, Dan V. Blalock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are prevalent, impact long-term physical and mental health, and are associated with eating disorders (EDs) in adulthood. The primary objectives of the current study were: (1) to examine and compare ACEs between two samples: treatment-seeking adults, and a nationally representative sample of adults, (2) to characterize ACEs items and total scores across demographic and diagnostic information in adults seeking treatment for an ED, (3) to statistically classify ACEs profiles using latent class analysis, and (4) to examine associations between ACEs profiles and diagnosis. Methods: This cross-sectional study assessed patients with a DSM-5 ED receiving treatment between October 2018 and April 2020 at the inpatient, residential, or partial hospitalization levels of care at one of two private ED treatment facilities. ACEs were assessed with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey at admission. Generalized linear models and Welch’s t-tests were used to compare ACEs in the current sample with national estimates. A latent class analysis was conducted to examine subgroups of ACEs responses, and differences in these classes by ED diagnoses were examined with multinomial logistic regression. Results: Patients with EDs had significantly higher ACEs scores (M = 1.95, SD = 1.90) than the nationally representative sample (M = 1.57, SD = 4.72; t = 6.42, p <.001). Within patients with EDs, four latent classes of ACEs item endorsement were identified. Patients with other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) and binge eating disorder (BED) were more likely to fall into the “Household ACEs” and “Abuse ACEs” groups, respectively, compared to anorexia nervosa—restricting subtype (AN-R). Conclusions: Patients with EDs reported more ACEs than the nationally representative sample, and differences in total ACEs and latent class membership were found across ED diagnoses. The current study can inform the development of trauma-informed care for patients with EDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number72
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Adults
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Eating disorders
  • Latent class analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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